Language of Description
Alt. Identifiers
  • 2004.721.8
1 Jan 1960 - 31 Dec 1960
Level of Description
  • German
EHRI Partner


Biographical History

Leo Baeck was born on May 23 1873 in Lissa, Germany (now Leszno Poland), to Samuel Baeck and Eva Placzek Baeck. His father was a Rabbi and Leo was raised in a traditional home, observing dietary laws and studying the Talmud daily. Leo had 4 sisters. He attended Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau and served as a rabbi, and a scholar on the Jewish faith. In 1899 he married Natalie Hamburger. They had a daughter, Ruth on August 22 1900. In 1912 Baeck went to Berlin where he worked as a Rabbi and lectured at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums. During World War I he served as a Champlain in the German army. After the war Baeck would become a prominent leader in the German Jewish community. He returned to Berlin and became President of the Union of German Rabbis and he was elected President of the German B’nai B’rith Order in 1924. After Hitler seized power of the German Government in 1933, laws were passed that restricted Jewish life. In 1933 Leo Baeck was elected president of the Reichsvertretung der deutschen Juden, an organization of Jewish groups whose goal was to advance the interests of German Jewry in the face of Nazi oppression. In September 1935, the Nazis announced the Nuremberg Laws which excluded Jews from citizenship and prohibited them from marrying or having sexual relations with persons of German blood. The laws defined a Jew as a person who had 3 or more grandparents that were Jews, regardless of their religious practice. With the increasing German antisemitism, Baeck received many offers of emigration, but he refused to leave his community, even after Jewish businesses and synagogues were burned and looted in November 1938. Baeck remained president of the Reichsvertretung der deutschen Juden until 1943 when it was placed under the state’s control and renamed Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland and then disbanded later in the year. Baeck was sent to Theresienstadt (Terezin) ghetto labor camp in occupied Czechoslovakia. There he gave lectures on philosophy and religion and became a leader of the camp’s Jews. The camp was liberated in May 1945. All 4 of Baeck’s sisters were murdered at Theresienstadt. Germany surrendered May 7, 1945 and Baeck went to England where his daughter Ruth lived. Leo Baeck, age 83, died on November 2, 1956 in London.

Archival History

The book was acquired by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2004.


United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection

Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions on access

Conditions Governing Reproduction

No restrictions on use



This description is derived directly from structured data provided to EHRI by a partner institution. This collection holding institution considers this description as an accurate reflection of the archival holdings to which it refers at the moment of data transfer.